What Should I Do If My Car Is Deemed a Total Loss After a Car Accident?

Total Loss After Car Accident

Getting into a car accident that isn’t your fault is never fun. Finding out that your car is totaled because of the accident is even worse. A totaled car can leave you in a tough financial situation as you struggle to buy a new car.

Often the amount you are offered by ICBC is much less than you believe your vehicle was worth. It might even be less than you owe on your car loan.

What Determines Whether a Car Is Totaled?

A car will be considered totaled if the insurance company determines that it would cost too much to repair the damage. In general, this means that the current market value of your car minus its salvage value is less than what it would cost to repair it. The cost of a replacement rental vehicle will be added to the repair costs, thereby increasing the likelihood that your car will be deemed a total loss.

As cars become more technologically advanced, the cost to repair them increases substantially, making it more and more likely that an insurance company will mark your car as totaled after an accident. Other factors—such as the age, salvage value and the prior condition of your car—may also play a role.

Another important consideration is whether you have collision coverage or not. If you do not, then the total loss offer will be reduced by the percentage ICBC feels you may be liable for the accident. If you do have collision coverage, ICBC may insist you pay the full deductible amount even if the accident was not your fault.

How Is Compensation Calculated for a Totaled Car?

If your car is totaled, the insurance company will offer you compensation based on the condition it thinks your vehicle was in just prior to the accident.  ICBC does this by looking at similar vehicles offered for sale in the open market in your area. Sometimes the ICBC Estimator will not know of any recent upgrades you may have made or if you have had any significant repair work done recently.  The Estimator may not realize your vehicle was the luxury edition of that particular model or he may have rated it as being in average condition whereas you think it was in above average condition.

Unfortunately, the insurance company’s offer may be much lower than you would like. The insurance company doesn’t care if you were still making payments on your car, which means that the amount they give you might be less than the amount of debt you have left. You are still responsible for paying off the full amount owed on the loan. Similarly, ICBC does not care that there may be sentimental value associated with your vehicle or that you will never be able to find a vehicle as reliable as yours was for the amount of money being offered.

Remember that you have the right to ask the insurance company how they arrived at their offer, and you can dispute their valuation.

How you are compensated will depend on a number of other factors, including whether you own the vehicle outright, are leasing, or are financing the car. If you own the car without any liens, the insurance company will pay you directly if your car has been totaled. If you are leasing, they will pay the leasing company directly. If you are financing the vehicle, the payment may be co-payable to you and the financing company in order to pay off the lien.

Once the total loss amount has been agreed to, the insurance company will ask you to transfer ownership of your car and then sell it for salvage.

Another point worth considering is that if your vehicle is a borderline total loss, it may be to your advantage to have it written off. Sometimes a newer vehicle which has had significant repair work done to it is not worth as much as a similar vehicle which has never been involved in an accident. An “accelerated depreciation” claim can sometimes be made if your vehicle is not deemed to be a total loss.

Why You Need a Lawyer If Your Car Has Been Totaled

If you’ve recently been in an accident that totaled your car, it is likely you, or a passenger, were injured.  If this is the case, you need the help of an experienced lawyer. A knowledgeable lawyer can help you navigate through the settlement process of your injury claim and offer some advice on how to dispute the settlement of the property damage claim. A lawyer can help you seek the fair amount you deserve for your loss.

At Klein Lawyers LLP, we have experience dealing with ICBC, and we know what it takes to get the maximum amount of compensation for your insurance claim. To get started on your claim, contact our car accident lawyers by phone or online now for a free consultation.